The Winter of Our Discontent

The phrase made famous first by Shakespeare and again by Steinbeck could easily be applied to this winter.

My son is in the first six months of the Caritas program, and has just turned 20 without feeling the warm embrace of his family in recognition of that life event. The harsh weather continues relentlessly and the persistence of trying to stay healthy, solvent and walking upright in a difficult time takes energy that some days exceeds my patience.  Hearing commercials for sunny destinations or others’ plans for family trips over March break brings out a brief feeling of nastiness that I dislike about myself but have to admit is real.

Acceptance is the only way through this – and doing the work to find another way of looking at things. A quote from Steinbeck’s book helps bring things into focus. “To be alive at all is to have scars.” It’s time to get on with living.

To help shake off this feeling of discontent, I made a last minute decision to attend the Caritas Foundation Harmony Ball. To be surrounded by people who understand, and are there because they believe in the power of hope and healing felt wonderful. To dress up and enjoy a special meal, dance with my sweetheart and meet new people was energizing. Winning a door prize was exciting. But none of this compared to the performances given by Caritas graduates.

Opening the evening was a powerful performance called ‘A Cry For Help’ delivered by a young man who shared the deepest part of his soul by re-enacting his own personal journey so everyone in the room would be reminded of why Caritas exists in the first place. It brought back memories that were painful, but also reinforced just how complicated the progression of addiction is – and how equally complex the journey to recovery will be.

Later in the evening, we were serenaded by two other graduates who had discovered not only their singing talent – but more importantly, the courage to share it on stage. Watching them start a little nervously and grow in confidence through each song seemed a perfect parallel for what they would have learned while at Caritas and the ongoing effort of putting it into practice each day.

I had secretly hoped the residents would be there to do a performance so I could catch a glimpse of my son. But my disappointment was brief, and replaced by a feeling of renewed acceptance and patience. I began to wonder what my son is learning about himself – and what special gifts he is nurturing while on his journey in the program. Maybe one day I would be sitting there watching my son on stage and feeling pride and gratitude for his progress. These things will take time and practice, persistence and work – not just for him, but also for me.

This winter of discontent has a purpose. As difficult as it is to see it now, somewhere under the ice and snow lie the seeds of spring, quietly preparing for their journey upward into the light. And so it is with us all.